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Making buildings sustainable is no longer an option- Amit Khanna

“We do not fear the abundance of information available to clients. Rather than fight for control over the process, we embrace our clients’ awareness and allow them to participate in the evolution of the design”, propels Amit Khanna who is the Design Principal for Amit Khanna Design Associates- a role in which he combines a deep involvement in design with his primary responsibility for the strategic direction of the practice. The studio’s philosophy is to make regional specificity and sustainability intrinsic to the design process and the final product. Amit graduated from the School of Planning & Architecture, New Delhi in 2002, followed by a Masters in Sustainable Urban Development from the University of Oxford. He is a recipient of the Moira Barrie Award (UK) & holds a Kellogg Scholarship at the University of Oxford.

As a student, Amit was a high achiever, winning national design competitions and was also chosen as Young Designers of 2013. He was chosen as one of only five architects among 20 designers in India under the age of 35 to exhibit his work at DxD, Alliance Francaise.

Amit is also passionate about imparting knowledge and practicality of design to students, and teaches at his alma mater with diverse responsibilities related to design, research and theoretical exploration. Through his initiatives in education, Amit Khanna engages in research as a tool for design innovation, both at the School and in the Studio. He is an acclaimed and widely published photographer and writes extensively for both online and offline media.

Picture11When asked about the most innovative project, Amit recounts, The Cuboid House. The project attempts to demonstrate the possibility of affirming some ‘principles’; of elementary yet precise rules. A series of spatial sequences are structured around minimal architectural events distributed throughout the house. These events are meant to be merely the background for the life of the future occupants and therefore recede into an almost imperceptible variation of light and shadow.

Developer-driven apartment blocks have completely overtaken the immediate context and most of urban Delhi. The resulting urban condition is one dominated by forced facades that are 50ft/15m tall, punctuated only with unusable three feet balconies and large expanses of inoperable glass with little or no protection from the climate.

Picture12In contrast, the Cuboid House strategically optimizes all of the area permissible by local code, but redistributes it amongst the various floor levels. The lower service floors are extended to the perimeter to allow for a larger ground floor and to maximize the parking at the road level. However instead of stacking upper plans above each other, the building steps away dramatically as it rises, giving way to a series of decks that open up to views on the north-east.

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This strategy helps bring light deep into what is essentially, a narrow thin building. The deep recesses for the windows and large overhangs temper the fierce climate of Delhi and recall sustainable building traditions, while allowing for views from within. Two local stones, are used to emphasize the cubic volumes that give this house its name and form its most distinctive visible element.

The focus is to deliver innovation that uplifts our environment instead of allowing our built environment to be a mish-mash of private agendas, the outcome of misinformed aspiration.  As his projects increase in scale & scope, their subsequent impact on the micro-context encourages him to think of community issues, in addition to his clients’ interests. Through recent projects, Amit has improved urban edges and the comfort of non-paying users on the street.

Amit affirms that “Making buildings sustainable is no longer an option. The long term economic and social gains from energy efficient buildings are far too important to be neglected anymore”.